Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in hat making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessi Lloyd, Founder of Grey Collective Hats, located in Albuquerque, NM, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The Grey Collective is a hat shop specializing in hand-crafted fur-felt hats and hat-making workshops. A portion of profits is donated to brain cancer research in remembrance of my late husband, who passed from brain cancer at the age of 31.

Tell us about yourself

Hey, hello, how are you? I am Jessi Lloyd. Mother, outdoor enthusiast, and hat maker. I made my first hat for my late husband. He had a large scar on the side of his head from his first craniectomy. I was a seamstress at the time, and he always had entirely too much confidence in my skills. I went down the rabbit hole of hat making and, through trial and error, taught myself to make him a hat. I never in a million years thought I would turn hat-making into a business. But shortly after making my husband's hat, his boss wanted a hat. Then his sons, then a friend of a friend, then a total stranger. I had been trying to find a way to help support the brain cancer community, and this newfound hobby presented the perfect opportunity. I am not a medical professional whose research and testing will discover a cure for brain cancer. That I snot my gift, I am a maker. I have the ability to create things with my two hands that can generate funds to support brain cancer research. So that is what I did. My husband ultimately lost his battle with brain cancer. But I continue to work towards helping fund the research because I hope my work can help the doctors to someday make a breakthrough so that someone else's husband, father, son, or friend isn't lost to this awful disease.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

There are so many things I am proud of within my business, but if I had to name my biggest accomplishment so far with Grey Collective would be that despite the loss of my husband, I went all in and made hat-making my full-time career. I debated shifting to something safer, something with a steady guaranteed paycheck. But I knew that hat-making was what I was meant to be doing.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The toughest part about being a business owner is all the different hats you must wear. Pun intended. I absolutely love the creative side; why can't I just make the hats? But alas, you must maintain your books, make sure everything for your business is legally correct, figure out SEO and marketing, run your social media, etc...It is all necessary but can be overwhelming at times.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. If you have the desire to do it, go for it! It is terrifying but exhilarating and, in my experience, so worth it. Do not wait for "the right time" because, as cliché, as it sounds, the time will never be exactly right. Do it with your fear and uncertainty. You just need to find the courage to take the first step!
  2. Don't be afraid to start small. I grew my business to what it is today, little by little. I take pride in that I have yet to go into debt building this business. I know that is not for everyone, but taking on too much debt or trying to go too big too fast could end your business before it has a chance to really take off. Do what feels right for you and grow at a pace that works for your life and goals.
  3. Surround yourself with extremely driven people. They don't necessarily need to be in the same field as you, but I have found that having highly driven people in my life helps me to stay driven. We never feel motivated 100% of the time, so on days/weeks/months, you are not motivated; you have to rely on your drive to keep putting in the work.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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